Summer break is the perfect time to help students prepare for the fall ACT. The September test date is a great make-up date for seniors who may have been unprepared for the spring test, or juniors who want to get a head start. The September test is typically administered early in the month. This means that if students start studying over summer break, they should have a solid three months to study once finals are over.
Students who take advantage of the summer break to study are well placed to see a 5-6 point increase in their ACT score. Not only do they benefit from the extended time frame, which allows them to cover more material, but the addition of summer test prep can also help prevent the “summer slide”. This means teachers spend less time reviewing last year’s concepts, and more time actually teaching new material.
5 Reasons Prepping Over Break is Brilliant
1. Students are fresh from school
Students who study over the summer vacation are better able to build on the concepts from the previous year while they are still fresh in their minds. Instead of relearning old concepts, they can jump in with a solid foundation and start focusing on the areas where they need more practice.
Additionally, students are still in “school mode”, and are used to spending time each day on studying. Since test prep during the summer isn’t as intensive as a full school schedule, they can still enjoy summer while benefiting from the habits built up over the school year.
2. Students have time for a full-length practice test…
...maybe even two or three! Even for students with summer jobs, sports, or vacations, the amount of time left in a typical weekday during summer gives them some substantial blocks of study time that are otherwise only available on weekends. They can use these opportunities to schedule, say, a Tuesday full-length practice test and still leave the weekend open for a family trip.
Full-length practice tests are the single best thing students can do to improve ACT scores, and yet one of the most difficult pieces to make time for. While students may be tempted to put practice tests on the back-burner, putting in the time for them pays dividends in the long run.
(Additionally, students who aren’t sure which test to take, can take practice tests of both the ACT and the new SAT to compare results.)
3. ACT prep can prevent the “summer slide”
ACT prep can help prevent the dreaded summer knowledge loss that can happen over the 2.5 months away from school. According to Oxford Learning, just 2-3 hours of studying per week can maintain a student’s current math and reading levels.
Neither teachers nor students particularly want to spend the first month or two in school reviewing material from the previous year. Providing resources for summer studying, such as reading logs, study apps, and vocabulary games can all help your students study for the ACT, saving valuable class time in the fall and building a solid foundation for the standardized assessments at the end of the year.
4. Make use of travel time
Students who travel over summer vacation can make use of otherwise unproductive study time. Instead of playing Candy Crush (or whatever game it is they’re playing these days…) they can study using ACT prep apps or pack along their practice book.
Summer travel can mean squandered time in airports and cars. One way to encourage students to use these hours is by setting up a study challenge using a program such as Magoosh that tracks the amount of time students spend studying. In fact, College Track uses Magoosh ACT prep as part of their holiday assignments.
5. Students can focus on a long-term plan
Students can sometimes make the mistake of not setting enough time aside for test prep. Since summer break is such a large chunk of time, it is a great opportunity to practice creating a long-term study plan with built-in flexibility. If they miss a day of studying, it’s generally easy to make up within the allotted time.
Students who use a day planner or calendar to map out a study schedule are not just setting themselves up for success with the test, but also building excellent time management skills that will carry them through the rest of school and beyond. Our three month study schedule is a great place to point students looking for guidance. They can use them as-is or customize them to fit their summer schedule.
Summer learning loss doesn't mean setting aside an entire vacation to study. With these tips, and a little effort, students can enjoy their time off and still hit the ground running next school year!